SPECIAL SITUATION COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, various measures are being taken in China, Germany and Europe to contain the disease, which will have a significant impact on travel to and in China. Due to the constantly changing situation, we recommend that you regularly check the current travel and safety information from the Federal Foreign Office. The COVID leaflet for travelers can also be found here. All of this information is updated regularly and should be checked on a daily basis.
For entry into China a passport with a validity of at least 6 months with a visa is required, which is issued in the representations of China (embassies and consulates).
The Chinese embassy has made a guide for applying for a visa available for download. As of December 16, applicants must have their fingerprints taken. The embassy also advises travelers on issues relating to legalization.
The Foreign Office in Berlin provides further information on entry requirements for the PR China, Hong Kong and Macau. In order to avoid trouble when entering the country, the existing customs regulations should be strictly observed.
There are some online learning programs on the Internet, for example at www.chinaweb.de for the modern high-level language with Chinese characters, pinyin (international transcription) and voice output for self-learning. However, a teacher makes it easier to get started with the foreign language, for example with the “Learning Chinese in China” program with a teacher in one-to-one lessons. Various extensive Chinese dictionaries in English and German can be accessed online.
Travel in China
According to mathgeneral, the transport network of the PRC has been massively expanded in the last few decades. Again and again new railway lines and motorway sections are opened. While one has to contend with congested streets and overcrowded public transport in the cities, traveling over longer distances within China has become more and more comfortable over the years.
If you travel in China, you will usually do so by train or plane, in rare cases also by bus. Most large provincial cities, including those in the distant western regions, can be reached in this way. However, if you want to travel to remote rural or impassable regions (desert, high mountains, etc.), you may have to switch to off-road vehicles, pack animals or hiking boots.
With a length of 120,000 km, the Chinese rail network is one of the largest in the world. In recent years, the high-speed network of the Chinese railways in particular has been continuously expanded. A train journey from Beijing to Shanghai now only takes five hours, making it a convenient alternative to traveling by plane. If you want to take a long train journey, for example from Beijing to Kunming in southwest China, you can book beds in sleeping compartments. Here you can choose between the normal and a more comfortable variant (“hard sleeper” and “soft sleeper”). Timetable information and ticket purchases for rail journeys can now be carried out conveniently online.
Traveling by air is often the only way in China to cover long distances quickly. All in all, air traffic is well organized and runs smoothly. Most of the flights are offered by the major Chinese airlines such as Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines or Hainan Airlines. Tickets are easy to get through travel agencies, local agents and, nowadays, mainly through the major online travel agencies in the PRC.
In more rural regions of China, sometimes you can only get around by bus. Not infrequently one is confronted with poor road conditions and old-age vehicles, which means that traveling by bus can be quite uncomfortable by European standards. Since bus journeys are still the cheapest mode of transport, they are mainly used by the Chinese. Anyone who has spent two days in a sleeping bus in China will have experienced a truly Chinese journey. Bus tickets are available from bus stations in every Chinese city.
If you want to drive a car yourself in China, you can obtain a provisional driving license for up to 3 months. Otherwise you need a Chinese driver’s license. For this you have to submit an application to the traffic police, as well as a residence permit, your own driver’s license and an official translation of the driver’s license. In addition, you have to pass a written exam and possibly a practical exam. Then it is important to learn the customs of Chinese car traffic, which are very different from the German ones. If you don’t have to transport a lot, an electric bike is a comparatively quick alternative, with which you can avoid many traffic jams.
Those who have reached their destination can find a place to stay in one of the countless hotels in all price ranges.